Global Warming Game Tells Children They Should Die

Published August 1, 2008

Are global warming alarmists encouraging children to commit suicide because their carbon footprints supposedly are harming the planet?

It certainly appears so in a children’s game concocted by the state-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Science Department, available online.

‘Pigs’ Should Die Young

The game is called Planet Slayer. Using it, children can calculate their carbon footprint–how much impact their carbon emissions allegedly have on global warming. The purpose for doing so, children were told in a version of the game that was online in early June, is so they can “find out what age you should die at so you don’t use more than your fair share of Earth’s resources.” The game now asks only, “are you a carbon hog?”

After answering 11 lifestyle questions, children click on a skull and crossbones. If a child is an “average” greenhouse “pig” or worse, the cartoon pig explodes into pieces, and its blood drains from its body and pools on the floor. Average “pigs,” according to the site, should die at 9.3 years old. The worst possible “pigs” should die at 1.3 years old.

“It is an insensitive game,” said Ronald Bailey, science correspondent for the Reason Foundation. “It implies that it is better for the planet that children die before they can grow up to harm the environment.”

Sends ‘Cruel’ Message

Skaidra Smith-Heisters, environmental policy analyst for the Reason Foundation, says the game is a failure at educating children about the environment.

“Planet Slayer’s greenhouse gas calculator reflects a morbid egalitarianism that is disturbing enough when it is applied uncritically in adult audiences,” said Smith-Heisters.

“The Planet Slayer Web site’s message to children is cruel and unhelpful,” Smith-Heisters continued. “I hate to imagine what the long-term lesson for a 10- or 11-year-old is if they’re told they should have died when they were nine. Making people feel powerless and worthless is certainly not a productive social strategy.

“Rather than trying to scare children, who don’t make either policy decisions or even household economic decisions in the first place, we should be teaching them basic science and principles of fair play,” Smith-Heisters concluded.

Better Message Available

Bailey says this manner of teaching children about the environment is ill-advised. Instead, he recommends people invest in teaching children about how the environment can be improved through the millions of individual consumer choices that make up a free market.

“Instead of encouraging kids to commit suicide as a way to protect the environment, we should teach them that the natural environment in rich countries is actually improving,” Bailey said.

“For example, the air and water are getting cleaner, and forests are expanding,” said Bailey. “[We should] teach kids that free markets increase productivity and spur technological progress so that people can use less and thus spare more land and water for nature. The prosperity that comes from economic growth reduces the size of people’s environmental footprints.”

This isn’t the first time global warming alarmists have used children to spread fear about the future. A California sixth-grade teacher recently force-fed his class a stack of articles predicting a variety of catastrophes if human carbon dioxide emissions are not reduced radically. The children wrote angry letters to The Heartland Institute, fretting they would all be dead in 10 years.

Both the sixth-graders’ teacher and the Planet Slayer game have been paid for by taxpayers.

Maureen Martin ([email protected]) is senior fellow for legal affairs at The Heartland Institute. Aleks Karnick ([email protected]) writes from Indianapolis, Indiana.

For more information …

Planet Slayer Greenhouse Calculator: